contentedsouls

Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

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Road trip to Spain

Posted by contentedsouls on 15/02/2019

It didn’t start well! it was lunchtime by the time we set off having winterised the boat and we were both pretty stressed but we found a lovely place to moor park overnight by lake Roermonde. Catering and housekeeping department had cobbled up some decent ‘re-heat in one pan’ meals which we scoffed and walked Daisy and Muttley before assembling the bed for an early night. Happily and soundly asleep, we were woken by the Dutch police who said that we couldn’t stay the night; it was illegal in their province. So poor old G got dressed and, by then wide awake again, drove 1 1/2 hours to a service station near Maastricht on the Dutch/Belgian border. The lady in the van stayed in bed with Daisy. An extremely noisy night with lorries coming and going; so not a lot of sleep.

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The second night we used an app for overnight parking and stayed by the Moselle in Gironde without being hassled and it was really nice to be back in the land of happy bonjour Monsieur/Madame territory and engage with some people playing boule. To our shame, we couldn’t stay awake long enough to avail ourselves of the village bar which would have been nice; but we were so tired after the previous night’s debacle and we re-heated another catering department one pot.

Daisy has taken to sitting on my lap the whole time we travel; which is fine on the motorways but I turn into a pincushion on back roads and roundabouts – it gives a whole new dimension to, ‘3 points of contact’.

It has taken some adjusting for me to live on the van – and no doubt for G too because it has been a bit of a ‘man cave’ for him as he travels to and fro from the NL to England and, usually, sleeps on it whilst there. By the third night we had a bit of a system going; the bed started to free up and pull out more easily and we had learnt that only one of us could move at a time. We also learnt to be gentle with each other because it is not a big enough space to have a row.

Then, of course, there is the toilet issue – l bet you wondered how long it would take me to get around to that subject? I have the porta pottie and we tended to get on the road about 9 ish and stop for breakfast and coffee mid morning and avail ourselves of the facilities. I must have been in my early 20’s when I last did a road trip through France; I remember the service stations as being really clean and with great food compared to their British equivalents – not so anymore. Now I was encountering loos without toilet seats and loos full of men rectifying plumbing; thank goodness the ‘holes with footprints’ days have gone as my knees can’t handle that procedure anymore!!!!! We won’t dwell any longer on this subject; suffice to say it did become a bit of an ‘issue’!

These photos were taken at an overnight stop by the Rhone at Cruas, just outside Montelimar and we were going to go into the city in the morning to load up with sweeties but, to be honest, it was too bloody cold and we wanted to push South to warmer climes asap.

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It was still very cold and, when the wind blew, it was icy as we climbed over the mountains and into Spain. Being ‘off grid’ we couldn’t use the fan heater so relied on the two gas hob rings to warm up the van in the mornings. Unfortunately Daisy (being a heat seeking missile) also gravitated to the gas rings and doesn’t have a lot left in the way of eyebrows or whiskers!

Once we crossed into Spain the motorway service stations took a marked upturn; immaculate loos and bacon and eggs for breakfast AND their coffee is the best I’ve ever drunk. Looking for our place to stay the night we ended up in the craziest, tightest, windiest, mountain village (trailer on the back) with the sat nav playing silly sods and I have no idea how G managed to negotiate through it without taking out someone’s doorstep or window box. He stuffed the phone into my hand and said ‘which way do we go?’. ‘I don’t know where we are so I don’t know’ I responded. ‘Where the blue triangle is’ he replied sharply. ‘If there was a blue triangle I’d know where we were’ I replied angrily. Our first ‘nearly’ a row though; so we’d done well. We did find our ‘place for the night’ but we couldn’t open the doors for the strength of the wind so had to drive back into the valley to find shelter – a shame though as the views were fabulous up top. By the end of our journey the next day the sun was (and continues) shining and the icy winds had gone. Time to slow down and start enjoying ourselves.

6 Responses to “Road trip to Spain”

  1. andywindy said

    Thank you for this Blog Post Jill, as you know I’ve been stalking you both on FB, but it seemed that you were just spirited to Spain complete with Camper Van! I wish I was surprised by the French Services, but this is why we go the ‘long’ way to Austria, Good Services and toilets along our route and staff that speak English to the best of their ability rather than denying that they were all taught it in School,and it is a condition of their employment.

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    • As you know Andy, as soon as you start crossing borders, you are restricted to data roaming wifi usage and daren’t ‘squander’ it on blog posts as it is our lifeline for banking and stuff. It was rather nice to talk French again as we haven’t really got a handle on Dutch (because nearly all speak near perfect English). Having a crack at Spanish now as we are not in an English holiday resort – in fact Romanian seems to be the 1st language amongst the restaurant owners; but I’ll give Romanian a miss I think.

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  2. vallypee said

    Oh Jill, what a great post! I love the pincushion part. Daisy must have lacerated you with all those twisty mountain roads! And I hope her eyebrows grow back. Does she travel well in the van? Most cats don’t really care for that.

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    • Fortunately, for most of the journey down, I had thermals under my jeans – its worse now in thin trousers when we drive her out for walks (I’m not going to even consider shorts!). She travels very happily on my lap – so long as she’s warm and with me she is happy. Her only objection is my disturbing her to retrieve and pay road tolls which involves winding down windows and letting in cold air.

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  3. Gill Stollery said

    I love to read about your travels!

    Like

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